Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry

Other reports in this collection Sustainable agriculture

The major objective of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), as defined by Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992), is to sustainably increase food production and enhance food security. Key elements of SARD (FAO, 1997b) include increasing agricultural production in ways that ensure access by all people to the food they need; helping people satisfy their social and cultural aspirations; and protecting and conserving the capacity of the natural resource base to continue to provide production, environmental, and cultural services. Potential LULUCF activities and projects to reduce carbon emissions or sequester carbon in agricultural systems (Section 4.4) could be designed to be consistent with these goals.

The FAO is helping countries evaluate the compatibility of policies with SARD objectives, advising on incentives, and developing indicators and guidelines for sustainable agricultural practices. Thus, the FAO may be a useful resource for Parties seeking to ensure that LULUCF climate mitigation measures in the agricultural sector are compatible with sustainable development objectives. The FAO recognizes several more specific issues associated with sustainable agriculture (FAO, 1997a; UNCSD, 1997), including the following:

  • Adopting farmer-centered participatory approaches and carefully recording and assessing indigenous knowledge and technology
  • Promoting use of environmentally friendly technologies to intensify production on high-potential land already converted to agriculture
  • Promoting cycling and use of organic materials in low-input farming systems
  • Rethinking priorities for conserving and using agro-biodiversity, including the use of locally adapted crop varieties and crop diversification.

In addition, the Committee on Sustainable Agriculture and the Environment in the Humid Tropics (NRC, 1993) proposed several specific land-use options to achieve sustainable agriculture in tropical regions, including the following:

  • Intensive cropping systems under proper management that do not lead to resource degradation through, for example, nutrient loading from fertilizers or soil and water contamination from agro-chemicals
  • Shifting cultivation systems, coupled with the use of local cropping systems, observation of sufficient fallow periods, diversification of cropping systems, maintaining continuous ground cover, and nutrient restoration through mulching
  • Agro-pastoral systems combining crop and animal production, allowing for enhanced agro-ecosystem productivity and stability through integrated management of soil and water resources and crop and animal diversification
  • Intensive animal husbandry (ranching), combined with sustainable pasture and rangeland management
  • Agroforestry systems that involve various combinations of woody and herbaceous vegetation with agricultural crops, often practiced for multiple agronomic, environmental, and socioeconomic benefits.

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